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Mind of Jacka: Take the Time

Blogs Shannon Steffee Jun 18, 2021

​​Different times; different pressures. And we all need a break before going to the next stage.

When you get right down to it, I don't have a real hectic life. Being semi-retired, I kind of make my own schedule and do only what I want when it comes to the world of internal audit. Over the last year-plus that meant some virtual presentations and a lot of writing. But no real pressure. Trust me, most afternoons were filled with thinking about, maybe, possibly, but not likely, doing something. (If anyone asks you, retirement does not stink.)

So, the idea of my taking a week-long vacation to Yellowstone National Park (something I did last week) may seem like it would have had no real impact on that internal audit world. But a fascinating thing happened.

Even though, as I say, all I have been doing is a little speaking and some writing (primarily keeping up on this blog), I found that, when I had returned, that week-long excursion had allowed me to depressurize, even though I didn't know any pressure had been building. There was a new-found freedom in my choices; in the work I was doing; and in my ability to explore, examine, and learn.

Now, in those olden days when I had a real job, there was no doubt I needed such respites. (It's something I have written about in the past.) And I have always been a raving advocate for anyone and everyone to take their vacations, to cut themselves off, to take time to step away from the real world in order to come back revitalized and newly enthusiastic.

But we have gone through weird times. We've been locked up, we've worked in new and confusing situations, and we've faced challenges and change at an unprecedented rate. And that means, even if we haven't felt the pressures — even if we haven't realized the pressures are there — we need to step back and take a breath before we plunge into the new reality.

Almost everyone I talk to has a lot — a LOT — of vacation they have not taken. (Where were any of us going to go?) And that means, unfortunately, that a lot of vacations will not be taken.

Do not fall into the trap. Again, we have been working in a strange world with strange pressures. It is about to change. We are not going back to the way things were. Instead, we are going to some hybrid that will cause us new tensions and new pressures. Better to relieve the existing pressures before the new ones start to build.

I know the excuses. We have too much going on. We have too many new responsibilities. We have too much to do. We have no time. We have, we have, we have, we have… All wonderful and all valid. And not a single one is worth its weight in workpapers against the need to get away and start afresh.

I spent a week in Yellowstone battling crowds, paying too much for gasoline, waiting in bison jams, and, in general, facing the frustrations that come from a crowded national park. And it was worth every minute for what I saw and for how I felt when I came back.

I expected the former; the latter caught me by surprise.

And it will catch you by surprise, too — how much you need it and how much it will change your attitude upon your return.

Take what is yours. Take your time to take the time to regroup, refresh, and re-energize.

And when you come back…well, maybe it still isn't quite time to jump back into the fray. Next time, some thoughts on how the department may want to confront everything that is about to happen to the department and to the organization.

Shannon Steffee